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Correct disposal of prescription drugs

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PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) – It's best to bag up unwanted medicines and let police dispose of them. It's called prescription drug take back. The problem is the event only happens twice a year. So where do you take unused pills and expired medicines those other days? 

Jennifer Adkins emailed me desperate for options. Her grandmother recently died. She bagged up all her medicines but can't find any place that will take them. 

"We've got drugs that have not even been opened yet," Jennifer explained.    

It's illegal to turn over unused prescriptions to anyone except law enforcement. But, people find themselves in Jennifer Adkins' predicament, uncertain about what to do with old pharmaceuticals. 

"She was a great lady and it's hard to believe that she's gone," Jennifer said. "These are all the medications she took on a daily basis." 

Jennifer wants to responsibly dispose of her deceased grandmother's meds. 

"I could just throw them out in the trash, but it doesn't seem like the right thing to do," she said. "It's gotta have some sort of ill-effect just dumping it down to the sewer." 

Her pharmacy won't take them back. She says Prince George police told her to hang on to the pills, capsules and medicines for the next government hosted drug take back April 30th. 

"I really don't want to hang on to this stuff for like another month. It's a reminder that she's not here. Is there someplace we can take them to so they are not impacting the environment or hurting anybody because they found the pills somewhere and they took them?" she asked.

I contacted Virginia Poison Center for an answer. 

"I'm not aware of any ongoing collection site that accepts all types of medicines from the public on a regular basis," said Evelyn Waring with the Virginia Poison Center. 

If you have to trash old prescriptions, federal guidelines say: take personal information off bottles, and make the drugs unusable by crushing pills and dissolving capsules in water, mix in kitty litter, coffee grounds, anything to trash the meds first. 

"By tossing them out in your regular garbage without taking special steps...you run the risk that a child, an animal, or someone looking to steal those medicines will gain access to them from your garbage or even the landfill," Evelyn said. 

I did find out Costco will take back all drugs for members except controlled substances, like oxycontin and valium. McGuire Veterans Medical Center will take back small quantities under limited circumstances for veterans. April 30th is the next prescription drug take back to be held in every state. Contact your local police for more information. 

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